Ma'a Nonu's refusal to play for the Blues next year has caused a ripple effect through New Zealand rugby with Sir John Kirwan now looking at nabbing Jackson Willison from the Chiefs.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie gambled on de-listing Willison, believing that no other franchise would be interested in him and he could pick him back up again in the draft, but it's a move which looks like backfiring on him.
Kirwan has confirmed that he is looking at signing the former New Zealand Under-20 midfielder for next year's squad.
"I am interested in him," Kirwan revealed to Sunday News.
"He is available so he comes into contention big time with me losing Ma'a. But there are a few things that are influencing a whole lot of other things. I am in one of those periods where I am calling here and there to see what I can organise.
"After what happened with Ma'a, what I've done is to look at all of the options and Jackson Willison is definitely one and I am having a good look at him.
"There are other people around so I am waiting to see what unfolds."
But because Nonu has left him in the lurch there are few other options available.
"I wrote up a list and at the end of the day I've had to scrub a lot of them off, so it's not ideal at all, because everyone is under contract," Kirwan said.
"A few that were available a few weeks ago aren't available now."
Willison could decide to turn down an offer from the Blues and get picked up by the Chiefs in the draft.
He will weigh up whether he'll get more game time at the Blues than the Chiefs. Francis Saili is the only other No 12 in Auckland, while the Chiefs have Charlie Ngatai and Bundee Aki. Rennie chose to de-list Willison and signed Aki.
The Nonu situation has highlighted what some see as a flaw in his NZRU contract which his management has exploited.
As well as giving Nonu an out clause, allowing him to terminate it to play overseas, the second-five was also able to re-sign with another Super Rugby team within New Zealand.
When Kirwan spoke on Tuesday about Nonu he said one of the disappointing aspects was that he had made decisions about other players lives based on a handshake agreement with the All Blacks second-five that he would commit to his two-year contract.
One of those players no doubt affected was Hadleigh Parkes, who chose to sign with the Southern Kings a few weeks ago.
"At the time we all thought that Ma'a was staying and that there wasn't much of an avenue here," Parkes said.
"But I can't look at it that way, I have to see it as a great opportunity to go over there for nine months, play some footy and then come back here and play for Auckland."
"I can't do too much about it - hindsight is a beautiful thing."
However, one player who should benefit from Nonu and Mils Muliaina's absence from the Blues next year is Malakai Fekitoa.
He hasn't been offered a contract yet, but should make it into their squad.
"I don't know yet but hopefully I'll get a chance," he said.
"It is a good chance for all of the young midfielders around the Blues region because Ma'a has left and hopefully I'll get a chance."
Fekitoa said he had mixed feelings when he heard about Nonu.
"I was happy, but at the same time I was sad because it would have been a good chance for me to learn from him."
Kirwan wouldn't reveal other signings he has for next year, but Sunday News can reveal that Tasman 23-year-old loosehead prop Tim Perry has signed for the Blues for next season.
It was announced last week that Pauliasi Manu has moved to the Rebels, but the prop wasn't a player Kirwan wanted to keep.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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